If Real Madrid is the most successful club of all time in European football, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are undoubtedly the torch bearers of Indian Football for over nine decades. Expectations from the Kolkata clubs have never gone even a bit less than snatching everything that comes in their trophy-hunting journey.

However it has been over eight years since the Red-&-Gold and the Green-&-Maroon supporters are heartily missing their usualA�exuberantA�celebration of lifting the most prestigious trophy of India, the I-League. The coveted national league crown is untouched by the two most successful clubs of Indian Football for a long time. The expectations are kissing the farthest sky and the Kolkata Clubs are successfully achieving silverwares in the national level Cup competitions, but the mirror of Indian club football, which is the I-League crown, still remains to be an unfinished roller coaster ride for a prolonged continued gap of eight years. Now the big question is what caused the Kolkata football maniacs to witness their home teams go through such barren I-League campaigns?

Failure To Run A Set Team:

If the nine times UEFA Champions League winners, Real Madrid, are finding it hard to clinch the top tier trophy, it is mainly due to failure of Madridista’s management of running a set team. Similarly, if the Indian football experts are to be believed then editing the team too frequently and changing players just after a single flop show have arguably given the major Kolkata clubs a run for their money in occupying the pole position in Indian national league.

Since 2003, the Red-&-Gold management didn’t show much care about allowing the core part of their team to get set; instead the management showed keen interest in dumping the players who failed to match up the expectations in their first season playing for the clubs. The scenario is no different in the city-rivals Mohun Bagan’s camp either. The Goan clubs took the full advantage of having a set team which acted as a positive catalyst to raise their performance status much higher than expected compared to their Kolkata counterparts.

Red-&-Gold brigade is determined to clinch the crown

Selection of Foreign Recruits:

East Bengal and Mohun bagan, the two most successful clubs in Indian football, share the glory of lifting the I-League crown six times among themselves. It is an open secret that one of the most important attributes to be successful in I-League is the quality of foreign players. At the start of every Indian football season, the foreign recruits acquired by both the Kolkata Giants created the most hype in media and among Indian football maniacs, but things didn’t work out well for them up till the last season as the foreigners failed to meet the expectations.

Odafa Okolie is probably the best example of it – considered as a failure in Kolkata, the Nigerian goal-machine went on to become the all time top scorer in I-League after he switched his base to Goa. If the pressure of tremendous expectations by the passionate Kolkata supporters and the impatience on the part of club officials are two prime reasons of failure, then the third cause of concern must be the quality of foreigners roped in by the recruitment teams. How can one forget the recruiting of Ian Berger and Sebastian Omar Monesterolo by the Red-&-Gold brigade, A�followed by Srecko Mitrovic – a trend which was well continued by the signing of Alexandro da Silva Santos in the very last season! The recruitment of Diamondstar by Mohun Bagan last season was perhaps the foreigner recruitment joke of the decade.

Fortunately things are working out superbly for the 2003 ASEAN Cup Champions since the last season after Trevor James Morgan was appointed as the chief coach. This year the Red-&-Gold will have Uga Okpara, Penn Orji, Alan Gow and Tolgay Ozbey – arguably one of the best foreign recruit combination of Indian football. The Red-&-Gold supporters feel that this combination willA�wave the magicA�A�of the golden old days when Suley Musah-Douglas Da Silva-Mike Okoro combination swept aside all the silverwares for East Bengal in that allA�conquering 2003 season.

Mohun Bagan too made their intentions clear by spending huge sum of money to rope in Odafa Okolie, which was followed by the promising signing of Hudson LimaA�and star Indian striker Sunil Chhetri. They have a star studded squad at their disposal, but the failure to acquire any quality foreign defenderA�might impact the team in their bid to challenge for the ultimate glory in this season.

Coach Factor:

The Kolkata club officials refuse to understand the fact that frequent changing of coaches result in paralyzing the team balance and normal playing style. From Bhowmik to Carlos, Philippe De Rider to Subrata Bhattacharya, Manoranjan Bhattacharya to Alok Mukherjee, then again going back to Bhowmick followed by Rider’s stint once again – disturbed the team balance and marked the downfall of East Bengal since 2005.A�Things were no different in Mohun Bagan either, as the club management continued to fire coaches one after another – sometimes in the middle of the season as well.

Finally thanks to Trevor James Morgan, that East Bengal seem to find a perfect coach and they will have a set team comprising of the same core group of players in their upcoming campaign. Steve Darbya��s appointment as the chief coach looked very promising for the Green-&-Maroon supporters, but the unceremonious exit of the British coach just after a failed Federation Cup campaign outline the fact that the Mohun Bagan officials are reluctant to learn from their mistakes.

New season, new hope – the Green-&-Maroons

Lack of Match Winners:

In the all conquering era of East Bengal, the team boasted of some quality match winners – Suley Musah, Douglas Da Silva, Mike Okoro, Cristiano Junior, Baichung Bhutia, Jayanta Sen, Edmilson Marques to name a few -A�capable of turning the course of any match single-handedly. The inability of East Bengals team management to retain their top match winners played a huge part in disrupting their trophy-hunting run.

Excluding Jose Ramirez Barreto, the Green-&-Maroon followers can hardly remember a foreigner who waved magic wearing the Mohun Bagan jersey in last decade. Compare the situation with Goan outfits – Dempo had the continuous presence of quality foreigners in Ranti Martins and Beto; where as Odafa Okolie and Luciano Sabrosa provided the desired quality boost to Churchill and Salgaocar respectively.

Lack of Infrastructure Development:

The failure in having their own stadiums, proper practice grounds, satisfactory gyms, quality academy structure and optimal managaement of sources forced East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to stay satisfied with much less than what they truly deserved. Infrastructure development failure acted as a major negative catalyst for the Kolkata Giants’ lean spell.

Playing Way Too Many Domestic Matches:

Unwanted utilization of the energy and resources have always been a cause of concern for the Kolkata clubs. Playing too many matches per season caused their core players to starve for energy and motivation at the fag end of the marathon I-League campaign. In last season, East Bengal played 71 matches in all competitions, compared to Salgaocar’s 48.

Fortunately, AIFF came up with this new rule which restricts the club footballers to play beyond 40 matches per season and it will, hopefully, work out in favor of both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the upcoming campaign.A�The countdown for the new season has already started, now let the action begin.

~ Arijit Sil ( Follow the author on Twitter – @ArijitSil )

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5 Responses to “Why Haven’t The Kolkata Clubs Won The I-League Crown For Such A Long Time?”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Jose says:

    This year too it will be a Goan club winning the i-league, most probably Sporting.

  2. @Arijit says:

    Learnt nothing new from the article.!!! stop wasting time

  3. Ashish Sen says:

    quality 1!…..its an eye opener 4 the kolkata club officials,i think.
    i will rate this 8.5/10

  4. soumen dhar says:

    Good one, mate. But I doubt if the Kolkata club officials are listening to these outcries. Football in Kolkata will remain the same even after 10 more years, sad but true. As long as these worthless “kormokortas” do not make way for professional people to run the show, Kolkata football will slowly die a pre-mature death.

    Keep up the good work and hope that someone is atleast listening.

  5. Tapas Das says:

    very true points……eye-opener 4 kolkata clubs,read twice,awesome analysis mate